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The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment and Equal Opportunities has written to the Chairman of Remploy approving the 2000-01 Annual Performance Agreement between the Department and the Company. This agreement covers the year from 1 April 2000. It has been negotiated by the Chief Executive of the Employment Service on behalf of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. The targets are:
Baroness Blackstone : Funding to meet the additional costs for the education of traveller children is provided through the Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Grant, part of the Department's Standards Fund, the main financial resource for the delivery of national education priorities.
In the current financial year 2000-2001, the expenditure specifically related to the education of traveller children is £15.7 million. In 1999-2000 it was £13.7 million. Allocations were made on applications received from local education authorities. Ninety-three local education authorities receive funding to support 17,000 traveller children in 3,400 schools.
Baroness Blackstone: From September 1999, Section 131 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 outlawed corporal punishment for all pupils in maintained and independent schools, and for children receiving nursery education.
The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Examination of such records as are readily available indicates that there may be in the region of 150 widows who were widowed prior to the changes being made with effect from 1982.
The Government are sympathetic to the situation of such widows if they are now experiencing financial difficulties. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has appointed John Steele, a recently retired senior civil servant in the Northern Ireland Office, to conduct a review of the purpose and scope of the new Police Fund recommended in the Report of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland. The Patten Commission specifically recommended that the fund should provide financial assistance for police widows and could supplement the income of those on very low pensions. The review being conducted by John Steele will address this issue.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: There have been no representations received against widows of RUC officers killed before November 1982 receiving enhanced pensions at the level of those widowed after that date.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The pensions of widows of RUC officers murdered before and after November 1982 are paid in accordance with the Regulations in force at the time of the deaths. The Government is taking forward, however, the recommendation in the
Whether they consider that having a two-tier system of pension provision for Royal Ulster Constabulary widows is in keeping with the Belfast Agreement's call for parity of esteem. [HL3636]
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The pensions paid to some early RUC widows was commented upon in the report by the Independent Commission on Policing in Northern Ireland, set up under the provisions of the Belfast Agreement. The Commission's proposal to set up a fund to address, inter alia, their low pension position has been accepted by Her Majesty's Government and plans for it are being made at the moment.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The information requested on the number of persons convicted of involvement in the murders of the 302 RUC officers since 1969 and the number of cases this represents is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Of those convicted, a total of six prisoners have been released under the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998 with a further seven prisoners due to be released on 28 July 2000.
How many people have been charged with offences while on bail from a court in Northern Ireland during each of the last ten years. [HL3309]
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Government's position remains that there are no plans for official government-organised events, but that we will consider specific proposals to mark the anniversary and whether it would be appropriate to support these in any way. Bodies such as the British Council and the British-Irish Association have already been involved in marking the anniversary through support for conferences.
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